Loulo, Mali, 27 July 2007 - Randgold Resources' Loulo complex in western Mali could become the focal point of a major new goldfield, chief executive Mark Bristow said today.
The company - which ranks as one of the gold mining industry's most successful explorers - regards the Loulo district as having enormous potential for significant new gold deposit discoveries in Africa, and perhaps the world, Bristow told journalists at an open day at the mine.
"That is why we have built up a substantial groundholding in the region. We have aggressive drilling programmes in place at the moment not only to expand the known orebodies at Loulo but also to explore other targets such as Faraba and Baboto," he said.
Following last year's successful commissioning of the hard rock crusher, production at Loulo on hard ore has been stepped up to full capacity. In the meantime, development of an underground mine at Yalea has progressed rapidly and this mine is due to deliver its first ore to the Loulo plant in the last quarter of this year. The second underground mine, Gara, is at an advanced planning stage.
"Loulo is in fact four mines in one - the first underground operation at Yalea will be in full production by 2009 and the development of the Gara underground mine starts in the same year. So here we have a truly world class mine complex with gold production forecast to peak at above 400 000 ounces per year and a life extending beyond 2020. Total resources at present stand at more than 11 million ounces and we are confident that this will be increased through ongoing exploration," Bristow said.
Bristow noted that the company was committed to the sustainability of its business and that sustainability in turn required close cooperation with the governments and people of the countries where the company operates and plans to operate.
"We have a particularly productive relationship with the government of Mali, which is one of our partners in the Morila mine and also owns 20% of Loulo. It is the strength of this partnership that gave us the confidence to invest further in the development of the two underground projects at Loulo," he said.
"Because we strive to be not only a successful business but also a good citizen of the countries in which we operate, we are very sensitive to the needs of the community and the environment. A percentage of Loulo's profits, for example, is allocated to community development projects, identified in conjunction with community representatives."
Bristow said the company also placed great emphasis on the training and advancement of Malian nationals. Reflecting this policy, Loulo general manager Amadou Konta is the first Malian to head a major mine and his team includes several other senior Malian managers who have achieved promotions during the ten years that Randgold Resources has been operating in Mali.